Horse that ran Lukas down may be in Derby

March 08, 1994|By New York Daily News

Having achieved notoriety for all the wrong reasons, Tabasco Cat is making waves again -- s a possible Kentucky Derby winner.

The horse best known for trampling assistant trainer Jeff Lukas in a near-fatal accident scored a one-length victory in Sunday's San Rafael Stakes at Santa Anita, Calif. It was his most significant victory and one that stamped him as a major Kentucky Derby contender.

Under Pat Day, Tabasco Cat took a narrow lead soon after the start, responded to the challenge of eventual runner-up Powis Castle at the top of the stretch and held on. Fly'n J. Bryan, the 7-10 favorite, tired and finished a distant fourth.

Tabasco Cat paid $5.80 and completed the one-mile run over a fast track in 1:36.

"We're staying right here" for the April 9 Santa Anita Derby, said winning trainer Wayne Lukas, Jeff's father. "I like the progression of the April 9 Derby. I know it's going to be a much tougher race, but we're going to be a little tighter, and we're looking forward to coming out of our own stall and running here at Santa Anita.

"I'm happy, and I hope that on the replay show that Jeff gets to watch it. We're not trying to make that an issue here, but we've got a nice horse, and we hope we can get him all the way."

Jeff Lukas was released from Huntington Hospital last week and has a begun a long rehabilitation program. He has made an almost miraculous recovery from the Dec. 15 accident.

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